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Glim Glam's Neverending Shim Sham - Better Late Than Never Edition
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Gentlemen, behold!

I have returned, and assuming that interest in these threads continues, I will henceforth be resuming my review series, though I am altering my approach slightly. I will explain below.

>What the hell is this?!?
These threads first began as a mostly humorous response to a certain obnoxious British poster who shall remain nameless. Way back in the bygone days of 2018, this individual attempted to shill a fanfiction he'd written by starting not one but two threads about it. The response to his opus was almost universally negative, and unfortunately he was not the sort of person who handled criticism well. The resultant shitflinging war would become known in the annals of /mlpol/ history as Glimmergate II.

This unnamed individual's intense autism eventually became so repellent that I took it upon myself to go through his work line by line and tell him, quite explicitly, everything that was wrong with it. This turned out to be a much larger project than I'd envisioned, and it ultimately took several months to complete. Due to the author's fixation with Starlight Glimmer, which formed the center of the controversy, I adopted Glim Glam as a moniker.

I started the project under the assumption that it was just a bit of funposting that would run its course and then end. As far as literary criticism went, I was mostly just blowing smoke out of my ass and having a giggle; I assumed that sooner or later the drama would die down and my tripfagging would get annoying. As such, the original plan was to finish what I had to say about Silver Star Apple and the Search for More Money, Love, The Meaning of Life, and Magical Cards, and then let "Glim Glam" drift quietly off into the sunset as long as I'm spilling my guts here I might as well come clean: I was also the guy who was tripfagging as King Battlebrit.

However, for whatever reason, people formed an impression that I actually had some idea of what the fuck I was talking about when it came to books, and so I received several requests from various Anons to review more fimfiction stories. After doing a couple of these, I realized I enjoyed reviewing stories, and also that as a writer I was learning a surprising amount from these authors mistakes, and thus Glim Glam's Infinite Ham-Slam was born.

My previous reviews are listed below, in reverse chronological order:

Neo-Equestrian Obstetrics
by Kassaz
>>>/mlpol/348497 →

I.D.: That Indestructible Something
by Chatoyance
>>>/mlpol/342944 →

Our Girl Scootaloo
By Cozy Mark IV
>>>/mlpol/331344 →

Rainmetall (included in the Our Girl Scootaloo thread, post # indicates start point)
By /mlpol/'s very own Mexican Anon
>>>/mlpol/338993 →

The Best Night Ever
By Capn_Chryssalid
>>>/mlpol/327793 →

Fallout: Equestria
By kkat
>>>/mlpol/284789 →

The Sun & The Rose
By soulpillar
>>>/mlpol/269307 →

Friendship is Optimal (included in the Past Sins thread, post # indicates start point)
By Iceman
>>>/mlpol/266598 →

Past Sins
By Pen Stroke
>>>/mlpol/248482 →

Would it Matter if I Was?
By GaPJaxie
>>>/mlpol/202151 →

The Original Silver Star Threads:
(these threads are pretty chaotic and I don't begin "reviewing" until midway through, but they're an entertaining read if you have the patience to comb through them)
>>>/mlpol/165646 →
>>>/mlpol/166716 →

>No, seriously, what the hell is this?!?
To my eternal surprise, these threads have not only continued to generate interest here, but I've also had a couple of odd people from outside the site wander in and ask me to review things. A couple of anons have said that my comments on a few stories might be of value to the MLP fan community at large, and have suggested that I reformat them to make them a little more...palatable.

Again, when I first began this project, I assumed these were mostly just shitposts being written on a site that few people bothered to visit, and as such I had no compunctions about peppering them with vulgarity and slurs because really, if you can't use the internet to anonymously hurl epithets at a complete stranger, then what is it even for?. With a couple of exceptions, most of the stories I've reviewed are well-known, well-loved stories written by horse-famous authors. As such, I feel like I've mostly been punching up, and I make absolutely no apology for any comments I've made about how god-awful most of this dreck actually is when you examine it closely.

However, in a slightly broader scope, asking someone from the more genteel quarters of the fandom to comb through page after page of me calling Pen Stroke a faggot may be a rather tall order, particularly if they are unfamiliar with the way imageboards work. So, I have decided to make the following changes to my approach:

1. These threads will still be done in the same read-and-react format to which you are all accustomed, and in general not much is going to change. However, I am going to make a conscious effort to make my commentary a smad less obscene no promises, but I do intend to try, and I am also going to try to get through individual stories more quickly (especially the long ones).

2. I will also be hosting an off-site blog (currently in development, link will be posted when it's ready) containing truncated reviews of select stories, reformatted to be more accessible to the broader MLP fandom and fanfiction community. Reviews posted to this blog will be formatted like normal articles, and will be a summation of my thoughts on the fics being discussed, rather than a long, meandering read-through, and will contain 20% fewer gay jokes and ethnic slurs. Updates will be posted as the project progresses.

Now then, with all of that out of the way...

Current Story:

by getmeouttahere


requested by that anon who keeps bugging me about it
117 replies and 76 files omitted.

>Hear us well, Anonymous. That we have been able to so easily discern Sister’s plans is not due to the fact that we have known each other all our long lives. They are apparent to anypony with the foresight to consider the options available, and this includes Twilight Sparkle. She is content to wait in Canterlot for your Geas to expire because she believes you have no way of reaching Equus in time. But if word were to come that you were in possession of an airship capable of making the journey, we can safely say she will spare nothing in pursuit of you. That is the message we came to deliver this night.
There is a bit of a logic hole here as well. Again, it sounds like this airship is bucking huge, and Big Mac and Apple Bloom were flying it around over Ponyville earlier, plus it had to be flown all the way here from wherever it was built. While AJ has recused herself from participating in Twilight's lunatic schemes, her other friends still live in town. We saw Pinkie Pie earlier today, so we know for a fact she was nearby and could plausibly have seen this ginormous thing. It's probably safe to say that word of this will get back to Twilight in relatively short order. Also: Twi is pretty detail-oriented, and it seems like a commission placed for an aircraft of this size is something that would have made its down the grapevine to her at some point over the last month. There has to at least be a licensing process or something that would need to go through government channels.

Anyway, after this, there is some discussion of royal politics. The gist of it is that Luna is still pretty angry with her sister for dumping this bowl of shit in her lap or whatever horses have instead of laps; I really need some new idioms, but at the same time she loves her sister and can appreciate that she just wants to find her own happiness. As such, she is willing to help Anon and Celestia escape, and do whatever she can to keep a lid on Twilight's autism. However, the situation is complicated by the fact that technically, she and Twilight are equals now. The way Equestria's wacky diarchy is designed, neither Princess has the authority to override the other, and in the event that the two disagree on some matter of policy, it has to be voted upon by a council of nobles. There are some flies in the ointment here as well: Luna has been away for the past 1000 years, and most of the nobles either don't know her that well or still think of her as Nightmare Moon. By contrast, the Sparkle family has been part of the Canterlot elite for centuries, and most of the nobles know and like Twilight.

While Luna promises that she will do her utmost to cockblock Twilight, her resources are limited. So, she advises Anon to depart no later than noon tomorrow.

>Princess Sparkle has eyes and ears everywhere and Sister’s gift won’t remain hidden from her for long.
That it's remained hidden for as long as it has is nothing short of a miracle. Maybe I'm overestimating the size of this thing, but from the way it's described I'm envisioning something like pic related: basically an ostentatious, airborne Carnival Cruise ship. Not exactly a low-profile means of conveyance.

Anyway, Luna concludes by offering him the standard pre-quest spooky dream warning: be on your guard, look after her sister, don't take any wooden nickels, etc. Then, the dream ends.

Page break. Anon wakes up to discover that it's now morning, he never finished reading the owner's manual for the Starship Titanic, and that sometime during the night, he inadvertently started spooning Sun Horse. To his embarrassment, he also discovers that Apple Bloom has stopped by to invite them to breakfast.

Yada yada yada they wake up, agree to join the Apples for breakfast, and climb out of bed to get themselves ready. Anon catches himself noticing the shape of Sunbutt's posterior, which strikes him as passing strange since he totally isn't into horse that way, but he snaps himself out of it. On the way downstairs, they discuss their plans. He tells him about the dream he had and his conversation with Luna.

>Speaking of Twilight, how did the reading go? Do you think you can pilot the ship now?”
>“Uh... probably?”
>She laughs. “That’s not very reassuring. But you told me before that you’re a more... ‘hands on’ learner, right? I’m sure it’ll come to you when needed.”
Celestia's whole "fly by the seat of your pants or whatever horses would have; it's amazing how poorly most human idioms translate into Horseworld" attitude hasn't led them astray so far, so what could possibly go wrong?

They arrive at the farmhouse and sit down for breakfast. We get a brief introduction to the members of the Apple family.

>But perhaps the most surprising of all is Big Macintosh. He seems fairly straightforward at first glance: not much of a talker, built like a brick shithouse, does his job quickly and efficiently, and probably smarter than he lets on. But last night at dinner you learned that this pony is a HUGE. FUCKIN’. NERD.
>Seriously. The best thing you can compare him to are those train geeks back on Earth you’ve seen from time to time on TV. You know the ones that own like every model of toy train ever made and can tell you everything about them down to what size bolt holds a particular piece of the engine in place? That’s Big Macintosh, except instead of trains, it’s airships.
This actually answers an earlier question I had. Again, I generally approve of the characterization in this story. While there isn't really anything in the show canon to suggest the Apple Family might be involved in the construction and sale of airships, headcanoning Big Mac into an airship otaku is plausible and works for this story. The idea is in line with his general canon personality as well.

Anyway, they talk for a bit, and Big Mac offers to give Anon some quick flight lessons before they head out. Anon thinks that sounds just super, so they head back to the ship.
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There is a page break, and we rejoin Anon, Celestia and Big Mac a few hours later. Big Mac has finished showing Anon how to fly the ship, and he seems to have developed enough of a basic proficiency to not get them killed.

>You’ve spent the past several hours practicing basic flight. Mac was even kind enough to give you a technical tour of the engine room and explain how all the various systems work together to keep the ship afloat. His knowledge of this stuff really is uncanny.
I'm sure he has chores and stuff to do and maybe the family can't spare him, but it seems like the author should have at least considered having Big Mac tag along as the airship pilot on this adventure. Celestia had more than enough treasure to compensate him for his time, and it would be nice to add a few more personalities to the group. Anon and Celestia have a pretty good dynamic together, but I'm not sure it will be enough to carry the story for another 18 chapters.

If I had been writing this, I probably would have had Celestia hire Big Mac to be a combination Pilot and Mechanic for the duration of the journey, instead of just giving Anon a crash-course on the basics and expecting him to pick it up as they go. I'm sure a gigantic bag of gold doubloons would have been more than enough to compensate the Apple family for the loss of manpower horsepower?, so it wouldn't be that implausible of a development. Meanwhile, Apple Bloom, who is clearly interested in the airship, would want to tag along as an assistant. Big Mac would of course say no, but she would probably stow away somewhere. Better yet, all three crusaders could stow away somewhere, only to be discovered when the ship is already underway and it's too late to turn back. AJ could even join them; I'm sure Granny Smith could handle the farm by herself. The additional characters could create some fun new dynamics; in general, the more clay you have to work with, the more building options you have.

>And with that, the red stallion turns to leave. Celestia trots over to your side at the console, and the two of you watch him descend the stairs to the living quarters.
>“You appear to have something on your mind, Captain,” she whispers.
>“Just my instincts telling me that without him on board we’re probably doomed,” you sigh.
>She pushes you forward with a wing. “Well? Surely you know how to remedy this situation.”
>You know what... she’s right. You need to listen to your own intuition more, just like Pinkie told you back on the train to Canterlot. And your intuition is telling you now, at this very moment, that without this pony’s help this quest, or expedition, or whatever the hell you want to call it is destined to fail. A ship like this needs an engineer.
>“Mac, wait,” you call out as you rush to the stairs after him.
Heh, I'll be damned. Great minds think alike, it would seem.

Anyway, after a long discussion, Big Mac agrees to join the party. Meanwhile, AJ overhears him volunteering, and the two of them get into a fight about it.

>“...But you know me,” Applejack continues with a sly grin. “Ah don’t think ah could sleep at night worryin’ about ya bein’ out gallivantin’ around the world with a shady character like Anon, so...” She walks over to the two of you and removes her hat. “Anon, ah don’t know if you’ve thought about this or not, but unless one of ya really knows how ta cook y’all might not have a good meal for a while. Ah’d like ta offer my services for the time bein’ as your ship’s chef, if’n ya’d have me.”
kek. This is just getting eerie.

>Applejack smiles. “It’s much appreciated, Anon— er, Captain. Horseapples, it’s gonna take me a while ta get used ta callin’ ya that.”
I still think it makes more sense for Big Mac to be the Captain, but whatever. It's technically Anon's ship, I guess.

There is a page break, followed by a single brief scene and another page break. Once again, the perspective switches jarringly; second person was a bad choice of overall narration for this. Anyway, the scene is short, so I will just dump it in verbatim:

>“Madame, we’re approaching the specified coordinates. Your orders?”
>A half-filled wine glass cradled by a faint blue aura floats amidst the unusual silence of the bridge.
>“Proceed as you were instructed. Disable the airship and capture its occupants.”
>“As you wish.”
This scene is intentionally vague, but I get the impression we're dealing with one of two possible situations here. The first is the obvious choice: Twilight is on to them, and is in pursuit. However, it's possible that this is just what the author wants us to think. The "faint blue aura" may be a clue. Twilight's aura is purple, while Luna's is blue. It's possible that Luna's promise of help was a doublecross, intended to put them at ease and delay their departure. This would actually make sense at a narrative level as well, since Luna's scene didn't really accomplish much beyond delivering some exposition that could have just as easily been delivered by Celestia. We'll see which way the author is planning to go, but I'm suspecting it's the second option.

Anyway, page break. It seems that whatever operation is being conducted to intercept them, our intrepid heroes are not yet aware of it. They ascend through the clouds, and are treated to an awe-inspiring view of the clouds and landscape spread out beneath them this story has some seriously comfy visuals. Unfortunately, they do not get much time to enjoy themselves: AJ points out some aircraft in pursuit behind them, which Big Mac identifies as military ships.

The ships begin firing on them, and Anon does his best to make evasive maneuvers. As the ship lurches about, they hear a commotion:

>“APPLE BLOOM?!” Applejack cries, running over to her younger sibling. “You’ve got three seconds ta explain why ya ain’t in school right now!”
Fucking lol, no wonder I'm enjoying this story. This guy basically thinks like I do. Also, it looks like Pinkie stowed away too.
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I'm glad that you're enjoying the fic. I had a feeling that it would be palatable since getmeouttahere was an apparent /mlp/ oldfag and I think it really shows in a good way.

The story only gets better from here on out as things begin to pick up pace as our cavalier couple proceeds across Wacky Horse Peninsula.

Not sure if it goes against the thread rules, but Exchange is pretty massive and maybe anons are apprehensive about reading it for that reason. I'd suggest checking out "The Lusty Human Butler" written by the same author. It's a very brisk read that works well as a sample for getmeouttahere's writing style. If you like it, then you'll probably enjoy Exchange. It's also canon to Exchange, iirc.

Anyway, it looks like the headcount currently stands at six: Anon, Sunbutt, AJ, Big Mac, Apple Bloom, and Ponkamena. Anon continues to make evasive maneuvers, and in an amusing twist, it turns out that Pinkie is unusually adept at manning the ship's guns. Also, the ship has guns. Celestia didn't actually order any guns, but it looks like Pinkie may have installed them herself...or something. Not 100% clear on this point. But whatever; Ponk blasts one of the enemy ships out of the sky, and they make their daring escape.

9 - Dawn Star

The perspective shifts again, and we observe Big Mac showing Apple Bloom how some parts of the ship work. The purpose of the scene seems to be to reveal some backstory on Big Mac: we learn that he had an adventurous streak when he was younger, and largely sympathizes with his sister's desire to explore and get into trouble. We also learn that he developed an interest in airship mechanics from a young age, and their parents at one time were setting money aside for him to study engineering in Manehattan. However, things didn't quite work out that way and he ended up staying down on the farm.

Eventually, they run into AJ and they banter back and forth for a bit. Mostly, the purpose of this scene is to show some interaction between the siblings and present their family dynamic. AJ is the practical, no-nonsense sister who often takes on a strict, disciplinary role with Apple Bloom, while Big Mac is more of a fun-loving big brother who spoils her. Both siblings seem to have adopted a parental role towards Apple Bloom, which makes sense.

Page break. We rejoin Celestia and Anon on the bridge. They appear to have made it out of Equestria without incident, as they are now flying over the ocean. The sun is setting.

They yak back and forth for a bit. Celestia tells Anon that he needs to name the ship, and Anon replies that he's decided to call it Dawn Star. When Sunbutt asks him to elaborate, he explains that when he was little, he called the planet Venus the Dawn Star, because it was the last star visible before the sun came up.

It's pretty clear from their interactions that, although Anon still hasn't consciously acknowledged an attraction to her, he's obviously beginning to see her as more than a friend. There's a lot of eye-gazing and mane-stroking and that sort of thing going on. Then, almost on cue, the dinner bell sounds, breaks the romantic tension, and it's back to friendly buddy-banter.

Anon puts the ship on autopilot, and they head down to the mess hall. AJ and Pinkie have whipped up a delicious spread of food that, as far as I can tell, consists entirely of desserts with a side of salad.

>You note that Celestia in particular is going to town on her cobbler with gusto.
"Going to town" makes it clear enough what she's doing; "with gusto" is just overkill. I would just say "You note that Celestia is going to town on her cobbler," or maybe "Celestia is really going to town on her cobbler."

>Pass the salad, please.
Probably the first time anyone's ever heard her say those words.

Anyway, that's enough about Shamu's fat ass I'm just playin' Sunbutt, you know we love you. There's some more playful banter, and we learn a bit more about the how and why of Pinkie's winding up on this ship. Apparently, Anon's main job at Sugar Cube Corner was to keep Ponk from eating too many pastries, and as soon as the Cakes found out that Anon would be leaving, they basically pushed her out the door. Beyond that, the rest of this scene is mostly just light entertaining banter. They discuss sleeping arrangements, which of course gets awkward. The conclusion is that Anon and Celestia will sleep in the Captain's Cabin, Pinkie gets the guest room, and the Apples will bunk in the crew quarters like the common laborers they are.

Page break. The perspective shifts again the author's choice to narrate this story second-person looks like a bigger mistake every time this happens; in a third-person story I wouldn't even blink at these transitions but here I find them very awkward. We are now in Canterlot Castle, where we see Twilight Sparkle, eating dinner alone like a loser I'm just playin', Purple, you know we love you. A guard enters, and brings her some kind of magical communication orb, which she uses to call Rarity.

It appears that Twilight has placed Rarity in charge of some elite branch of the military whose sole task is to track down and retrieve Anon. Unfortunately for Rarity, Twilight seems a bit peeved that today's operation was not a success. Rarity promises to do her best to keep him from reaching the Island.

>The fashionable unicorn solemnly nods. “Truly, they’ve lost sight of what’s most important. As the famous romance novel authoress Mistress Notfluutershai would say, ’True love comes before all’. I, for one, feel you’re doing the right thing, and I’m happy to help in any way I’m able.”
kek, I was just joking about the "Fluttershy writes erotic fanfiction" thing, but it looks like I've managed to read getmeouttahere's mind yet again either that or he is reading mine somehow. This is seriously getting weird.

Anyway, we learn a little more about what's going on. It seems my theory about Luna doublecrossing Anon was probably a miss; the implication seems to be that it was Rarity commanding the airships earlier. Twilight, meanwhile, does not handle the news about Anon downing two of her airships well.

“Princess? Dear? This might be a bit presumptuous of me to say, but... perhaps you should slow down? You were never really good with alcohol, if I recall correctly...”
God damn it, if this guy also headcanons Twilight as a crazy drunk...

“Oh, this?” Twilight beams, holding up the empty glass. “This isn’t wine. It’s really Capri Sun®. I get the servants to squeeze it out of the little pouches for me so I can drink it in a glass.”
Oh, okay; that answers that. Nice to see that absolute power hasn't gone to her head.
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>Not sure if it goes against the thread rules
Don't be put off by my earlier post, this is meant to be a pretty relaxed thread and shitposting/side discussion is welcome. I mostly just need to use the cattle prod on occasion to keep Nigel in line, as he tends to derail these threads when given free rein.

I was actually thinking I might check out some more of this guy's catalog; I'm liking him so far. I'll probably give the butler one a read at some point probably won't review it, but will definitely read
I'm not really big fan yet. We'll see if that changes.

I don't really feel like going in on it that much right now so here's my brief, "eeh"s. Then, I did anyway.

1. Anon's denseness. Seen this before and usually it's kinda just a drag since nothing happens. "Is nyx really nightmare moon? No, she is too sweet for that. But what if she is?"

2. I haven't really gotten a good grasp on the pairs' chemistry, yet. It seems like they just like each other, which is fine but not that intresting. I almost prefer if they got together already and we see how they be in a relationship, which they kinda already are.

3. The contriveness of certain scenes are forboding, especially since we're clearly moving away from comfy slice of life to a more serious story. I don't mind silliness otherwise but you can't have your cake and eat it too.

4. This is sort of a half-point. I understand that it's for fun and for the sake of the story but I don't believe that Twilight would act in the ways she does if even if she really like Anon.
Who knows, lust is pretty powerful motivational force and this Equestria seems to be reverse gender role kinda universe so, maybe.
But I press, (X) doubt, for now.

Just my two cents. I have only read your review posts, not the real story.
Did u just spoil this here?
>I mostly just need to use the cattle prod on occasion to keep Nigel in line, as he tends to derail these threads when given free rein.
Believe me, I know. I've been around for years a while. Your wrangling is very much appreciated, by the way.

>I was actually thinking I might check out some more of this guy's catalog; I'm liking him so far
Beyond Exchange, it's mostly just silly wish fulfillment stuff with yandere mares. Not really everyone's cup of tea, I'm sure. I still find his stories to be charming, but that may be my nostalgia talking.

That being said, I still think his stuff is a notch above most of the slop on fimfic.

I'm sure this is largely directed at Glim, but I'm going to go ahead and toss out my ¢2.

Yeah, he's pretty much a blank slate for the reader to project himself onto to some extent, like many AiE stories.
I'll try not spoil anything, so I'll just say that the pacing is slow in regards to their character progression. It'll pick up as the story transitions from its SoL beginning to a more adventurous narrative.
Despite the (minor, imo) tonal shift the story remains humorous and fairly lighthearted throughout it all.
Understandable. It may help to keep mind that this story is ancient and clearly draws heavily from the wackiness of the Faust era, like Purple Autism's obsessive mental breakdowns.

I can see how some of the characterization can be a hang up for some, but I honestly don't remember anything particularly flagrant in the story that I couldn't flex around my suspension of disbelief.

I should mention that I haven't given the story a proper read in five years and I'm flying by memory. Also I'm fatigued and sick, so if I talk like a fag and my shit's all retarded, that's why.

Pardon any mistakes if I've misconstrued anything.
>I'm sure this is largely directed at Glim
Ah ah ah, GG. Fool me once...

>Yeah, he's pretty much a blank slate for the reader to project himself onto to some extent, like many AiE stories.
Yeah. That was my impression as well. Maybe, there can be benefits for that as well.

>It'll pick up
Then I'll give it more time.

>the story remains humorous and fairly lighthearted
Okay, then we'll see how it works out.

>wackiness of the Faust era, like Purple Autism's obsessive mental breakdowns.
I feel like it's more specifically that it draws from the lesson zero episode but that was back in season two after all so, yeah, my your analysis is still accurate.

>Pardon any mistakes if I've misconstrued anything.
Nah, it was perfect man. A+ reading comprehension.
>two after all so, yeah, my your analysis is still accurate.
7ea41eb6572df9dec80f55b10130f37f0fd925b9_2000x2000 png.png
Just a friendly reminder. You don't even have to continue our collab if you don't feel like it, but I just wanted to remind you of it if you had forgotten about it.

I really like our story, both writing- and reading-wise. However, I'm not gonna force you to do anything ^^. Also, I can wait, that's the least I can do.

I have notice that you do juggle just a bunch a different projects: The Nigel movie, Dale Gribble in Equestria, Review thread, our collab, movie nights (not sure how demanding this but still) and mod work. So I get it. Jfyi np dw ggwp is all G. ^^
lol sorry, I know it's been awhile since you posted your last chapter. I always take on too many projects, and then I end up procrastinating on all of them.

Anyway, just to let you know what's going on, I am also enjoying our story and I fully intend to continue it. However it's also been a long time since I last worked on it and I don't remember some of the early details, so before I write the next installment I want to go back and thoroughly reread everything we have from the beginning, which I haven't gotten around to doing yet. I had actually planned to get started on that last week, but then I noticed the /mlp/ writing contest mentioned here >>>/mlpol/366760 → and decided to bump that to the top of my priority list for the month, since there is a finite deadline for that event (October 13).

The way I've been doing things recently is I will just balance working on writing projects with working on this review. I try to make a review post or two at least every couple of days, and on the days where I don't do a review post I work on writing. As soon as I get my story wrapped up for /mlp/ I'm going to shift gears and work on our collab. Ideally I want to get the next chapter done by the end of October, because I plan on doing NaNoWriMo again, and so if I don't get it done before that starts up I probably won't get it finished before the new year.
>I noticed the /mlp/ writing contest mentioned here
> I plan on doing NaNoWriMo again
I should have typed it man, paraphrase: "And your probably gonna write for the comp and for november again."

I didn't type it because I kinda dismissed the idea since you got so much going on already that I was like, "Nah, he's probably not gonna do that." Especially the november thing, but here we are. ^^

>and so if I don't get it done before that starts up I probably won't get it finished before the new year.
That's fine.
>I am also enjoying our story and I fully intend to continue it.
Heh heh heh, that's all I want to hear from somone like you. ^^
That makes me happy. ^^

Here's some lewd glimmers as a reward for all your efforts to the pony race. The Fuhrer would be prude.
Some more images.
One more.
Now Im done. Promise. ^^
How wonderful to return to this board after 8+ months to find my favorite cartoon horse smut reviewer is back at it again. While I've seen that you're quite active in the writefag thread your review threads are the primary reason I return to this board in the first place. Always a delight to read.

I've started to read Exchange and I'm liking it so far. I think it'll be the first time I'm reading a story alongside your review so that'll be interesting I'm sure.

I'm going to be bold and repeat my request for you to review The Rise of Darth Vulcan by RHJunior as I did a few threads back. I expect you have more important and engaging things to do than review an unfinished and slow-updating story (last chapter from 2022-01-09) but I'd love to read your takes on a fic I have a nostalgic affection for.

Whatever you choose I'll be eagerly waiting for the next post you make continuing the current review.
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Thank you, I'm happy you're enjoying it. I've neglected this thread for a couple of weeks to work on some writing projects, but will probably be getting back to it in a few days.

>The Rise of Darth Vulcan by RHJunior
I remember this request, or at least I do now that you've reminded me what it was called. I was trying to recall everything that I'd been asked to do and I remember there was one somebody had requested that had something like "Darth Vader" in the title. Is this it?

Anyway, I expect to have Exchange wrapped up in relatively short order since it's been a pretty quick read thus far. Someone has been bugging me to do Project Horizons pretty consistently for a really long time now, and while I don't think I'm going to do the whole thing, I feel like I should probably do at least some of it, so that will probably be next. After that, the Darth Vulcan thing looks like it would be a pretty good choice, so I can go ahead and put that on the list. I think at some point I'd like to take a look at some of the Conversion Bureau stuff as well.
Yes, that is the one. It can't be found on fimfiction since RHJunior was, and I might assume is to this day, a peculiar figure. Him being an avowed Christian fundamentalist and young Earth creationist, and often expressing his views in the comments, led to some conflict with the users and staff of fimfiction and eventually he deleted his account and moved to AO3 instead. This was many years ago and my memory is a bit fuzzy but I think that's how it went.

I recall you agreed to check out Project Horizons in previous threads so I'm not surprised it takes priority, and I have only a surface-level familiarity with the Conversion Bureau (mainly that its seems to be the essence of skub put into writing) so that'd be interesting. Though I'd be lying if I claimed that I was not excited over that you're seriously considering my request.

Whoops, I kind of forgot about this. Anyway, continuing from where we left off.

You may remember that Twilight and Rarity were in the palace having a conversation. Twilight shows Rarity an outfit she saved:

>A deep purple robe, covered with perfectly accurate constellations, floats in the air along with its matching starry headpiece.
The text doesn't clarify the significance of this, but we are meant to assume it is the stupid-looking Gala dress that Rarity made according to Twilight's specifications back in some long-forgotten episode. Normally, I would object to the author's referencing some obscure detail from the show and relying on the reader's presumed knowledge to explain why this thing is important. However, in this case, it basically works, because it's made clear through context:

>The unicorn’s nervous smile immediately fades as a look of horror washes over her face. “No... no, it can’t be... I thought that abomination was destroyed!”
>“Nope~!” Twilight chirps. “It was still in my closet where I left it!” Her smile fades and she adopts a menacing grin. “There’s a banquet for the nobility in a few days. Everypony who’s anypony in Canterlot is going to be there. I might just wear this little number to it... and if I do I’ll be sure to let everypony know that it’s a Rarity original~”
>The unicorn gasps and wobbles on her hooves as if on the verge of fainting. “You... you fiend! How could you?!”
>Twilight places the disastrous dress aside and smiles cheerfully as a few more giggles escape her mouth. “Though, as long as you don’t fail me, you have nothing to worry about. Bring me my Anon and you have my word that this dress’ll never see the light of day again. Simple, right?”
Even if the reader has never seen the episode being referenced or has simply forgotten it since it happened forever ago, they could still figure out what's going on here. At some point in the past, for some reason, Rarity created an apparently ugly-looking dress for Twilight. Twilight still has it. She intends to use it to gain leverage over Rarity by threatening to wear it at an official function and brag about how Rarity made it for her. Even if the reader doesn't catch the reference, they can still figure out what's going on.

Anyway, the more salient point here is that Twilight is getting worse. Her obsession with Anon has consumed her to the point where she no longer has any moral qualms about bullying her friends into doing what she wants, so long as it serves this goal.

>Rarity dramatically hangs her head in defeat. “Yes... you’ve made yourself very clear, Princess. I, Rarity, shall do as you request.”
It's also clear that power has gone to her head. She now makes her friends bow to her and refer to her as "Princess."

Anyway, Rarity agrees to do as she asks, and then she mumbles to herself about how much she wants Anon's human penis in her horsegina, and then she goes to sleep. End of scene.

Page break. We rejoin Anon and Celestia in yet another awkward moment. They are now in the bedroom, trying to decide who is going to sleep where. He complains that he will have to sleep in his clothes because Twilight nuked his house and he lost everything, but Celestia tells him to look in the drawer. He discovers that, once again, the Horse Princess has seen to his every need: he now has a full wardrobe tailored to his individual preferences.

>Your heart nearly stops. All those conversations you had about climbing, all those little questions she asked... not only did she listen to every word, she remembered them almost perfectly...
Celestia's single-mindedness when it comes to Anon is annoyingly similar to Twilight's. Their current predicament is mostly the direct result of a series of blunders she made. She seriously underestimated the depth of Twilight's obsession, and made a grave miscalculation in not only abdicating the throne, but ceding it to Twi. However, she was attentive enough to remember that Anon liked mountain climbing and...presumably bought him some clothes that would be suitable to such a purpose.

>You close your eyes, but your smile doesn’t fade. You’re no magic expert, but it doesn’t take one to see that there’s no way this silly horse, who can’t even muster the magical energy to pull up her own sheets or lift a fork at the dinner table, can stand against Twilight as she is now, or probably even as she was before. Your rational mind tries to tell you those words were merely meant to comfort you, like a parent telling their child everything’s going to be fine as the house burns around them.
Case in point. The Geas is now almost completely spent; by Anon's calculation it will be gone by tomorrow. Also, despite still having her wings at least I believe she does; I took a rather long hiatus from this and I might need to skim the previous chapters to remember all the details Celestia is basically just a regular unicorn now.

Anyway, Anon isn't sure whether Celestia's confidence is just bravado or if she actually has something up her sleeve maybe I should just give up on the whole idiom thing, but he decides to trust her. They have another borderline-sexual-but-not-actually-sexual cuddling moment, and they go to sleep.

The chapter ends here.

10 - Purple Wings

>By morning, the rolling ocean below you has been replaced by the vast plains and deserts of Latigo.
Well, that was quick. I was rather expecting at least a chapter or two of Odysseus-like trials and setbacks before they actually get where they're going. Maybe a few stops on some islands inhabited by weird and dangerous creatures. But whatever.

>“It feels weird to see it from the air like this,” you say as you take another sip.
>Celestia nods. “Yes, and much has changed since I was last here. Without ponies to temper it, nature now runs free. What were once lush forests are now rolling deserts, and what were once barren wastelands now teem with life.”
I'm not actually sure that's how nature works. But whatever.

Anyway, the author takes the opportunity to feed us a bit of deep lore. The continent they are now flying over, Latigo, was apparently the home of the three pony tribes prior to the unification see S1 episode whatever for details. Their ultimate destination, an island called Equus which I believe is at the center of an inland sea somewhere in Latigo I might have to skim previous chapters to verify this as well, is believed to be the source of all life in the world.

>“Well, if they wanna know what happened so bad, why not just ask somepony who was there?” Pinkie asks with a giggle. She gives Celestia a big smile, only to find a gentle one returned back to her.
>“I’ve learned many things over my long lifetime, Pinkie Pie, but perhaps the most important is that we should live in the present. The past is the past, and the future is unwritten. Lessons can be learned from yesterday, and elaborate plans made for tomorrow, but only through actions taken in the present do we forge who we are.”
I'm actually a little unclear on the significance of this. Pinkie seems to be implying that Celestia lived through some of these events, but it seems as if most of them ought logically to predate her. Celestia is old, but she hasn't been around forever. I don't remember if there is any canon time frame given for the Hearth's Warming unification event, but it feels like it ought to be older than 1000 years in the past.

Events like all life emerging from a wellspring in the center of the known world definitely feels like "dawn of time" territory, not "1000 years ago" territory. To put things in perspective, a 1000 year old person living in our time would have been born during the High Middle Ages. Old enough to have seen some shit, certainly, but relatively young in the grand scheme of things. To put this in perspective, the High Middle Ages was the apex of European Christian civilization, but a person living in that period would have needed to be 1000 years old in order to have actually met Christ. A person living in Christ's time would have needed to be about that old in order to have seen the Bronze Age and met their legendary pervert. And so on.

Granted, we don't know exactly how old Equestria is supposed to be; they could be a relatively young civilization for all we know. However, if you're trying to create a deep-lore mythology for a fictional universe, it's worth considering that time can go back a long, long way. Our world's recorded history goes back about 10,000 years I think, so basically the lifespan of ten Princess Celestias, and that's just the stuff we know about. The age of Earth itself is something like 5 billion years; you'd have to go through about five million Princess Celestias in order to see that far back. Just food for thought.

Anyway, there's some more banter here, and it seems like the author's implication is that Celestia and Luna did physically witness the events he's talking about. Maybe getmeouttahere is a Young Earth Creationist; who knows? In any case, Celestia informs us that in the present era, Latigo is inhabited by all sorts of dangerous and unpleasant creatures, including dragons, minotaurs, and something called "murderhounds" all I can say here is that they better not turn out to be as big a letdown as the Hellhounds in FoE were.

In any event, the conversation now returns to more practical matters. They are still being pursued by Twilight, and AJ confirms that Twilight is unlikely to just give up something which, I will again point out, Celestia ought to have known, since she has known Twilight far longer than AJ has, and is arguably closer to her.

>“Ah understand what you’re lookin’ ta accomplish here,” she says, turning to Celestia. “Ya want ta get some magical rock thing that’ll bring your power back. But what ah want ta know is... what are ya plannin’ on doin’ afterwards? Ah hate ta be the bearer of bad news, but ya unleashed a monster on us and ah need ta know if you intend ta do anything about it.”
This seems like a valid point. I will also once again state that this mess has been almost entirely Celestia's fault, yet she has thus far exhibited a rather cavalier attitude about all of the mayhem she's caused. I assume that this was at least partly intentional on the author's part and done for the sake of humor, but still. You'd think a 1000 year old horse princess would have a better sense of responsibility.

Anyway, while they're talking about all of this, Apple Bloom suddenly observes that they are being pursued by a fleet of airships, which appear to be gaining on them.

>“Speak of the devil and he shall appear, as they say,” Celestia grumbles, rolling her eyes at the sight.
Who says that? Would that really be a saying here? Is there some kind of horse-devil I don't know about? Is said Devil only 1000 years old too? I will seriously never tire of going through fanfiction and nitpicking stupid little details like this :DDDDDD

The ships are being commanded by none other than Rarity, and she and AJ are understandably surprised to run into each other. Rarity appears on deck via some sort of magical projection system and demands their surrender.

>You feel the temperature around you drop by several degrees. Holy. Shit. The way she said it and the look on her face... this is a side of Celestia you haven’t ever seen before, aside from little glimpses of it back when she was a Princess.
I can't help but feel that, if she'd taken this attitude with Twilight a bit earlier, many of their present troubles could have been avoided.

Anyway, Celestia uses Intimidate on Rarity, and it's super effective. Rarity blusters, and tells them to prepare for combat.

>W-W-Well, then! I suppose it’s settled! I don’t know what you intend to do when it’s thirteen against one
I'm pretty sure Fluttershy wrote an erotic fanfic that began with this premise.

Anyway, they stand around on deck for awhile arguing about what to do (presumably their ship is still moving and the fleet hasn't quite gotten within firing range yet, so this seems cricket). The situation seems hopeless and blah blah blah. Then, Big Mac announces that he and Apple Bloom have come up with a convenient bit of plot armor secret weapon.

>Apple Bloom bounds up the stairs from below deck with a strange metal rod in her mouth, which sort of looks like a cross between something you’d see hanging in an auto repair garage and some weird D&D scepter.
I'm pretty sure Fluttershy wrote a fanfic about this, too.

ANYWAY, the long story short is that Big Mac's giant rod is some kind of magical tuning device that fucks with the timing of magical engines. Since Rarity's ships are already overclocking their engines in order to catch up to them, then all they have to do is fire this device at each ship and its engine will instantly kerplode. The catch is that you have to get close in order to use it, and getting this close to any of the pursuing ships would bring them within cannon range of all of them. Welp, it looks like the situation is once again hopeless. Too bad they don't have some kind of flying horse on board. Oh, wait, they actually do have one of those.

So, Anon hops on Celestia's back and the two of them take off. Meanwhile, Ponk manages to down one of the ships using the cannon she brought.

Page break. We switch to Rarity's perspective. Despite having no prior military experience, she seems oddly comfortable with commanding an airship battle, and likens it to dressmaking:

>Rarity smiles. As an artist who has created countless incredible dresses in the midst of the storm of chaos that is her little sister Sweetie Belle, a frenzied battlefield like this is nothing. She can see the design in her mind; all that’s left is to realize it.
I feel like I should raise some sort of objection to this, but honestly? Fuck it. It's an MLP story, and it's not like we haven't witnessed far more ridiculous events in stories that pretend to be far more serious than this one is. I'm going to allow it.

Page break. We now get the perspective of Big Mac and AJ on the bridge.

>“Ah dunno if you realized this, but these controls ain’t exactly designed for hooves!” he yells back, banking the ship hard to avoid yet another volley. “If you think you can do better, she’s all yours!”
This seems like a bit of a design flaw on Mac's part. I get that the ship was custom-built for Anon, but you'd think there would be a second set of controls designed for horses, just in case.

Anyway, blah blah blah, airship fight. This bit is split into several short sections divided by page breaks, with the perspective switching back and forth. Perfect for an action sequence like this, but again, we see that the overall second-person perspective was a bit of a regrettable choice in a story where the view needs to change so often. The tl;dr of it is that they are hopelessly outnumbered and outgunned, and Rarity prematurely declares victory. And then, suddenly, there's Anon, really showing everyone what a man armed with a convenient piece of plot armor and riding a flying horse is capable of. Rarity spits out her victory champagne on cue.

>The unicorn rears back in shock. “Celestia and Anonymous are WHAT?!”
Having sex in midair, when they're supposed to be taking down airships with their plot-armor cannon. Oh wait, never mind; I'm looking at Fluttershy's fanfic again.

>The distinct lack of the sound of cannon fire on the wind causes two orange ears to perk up and two emerald eyes to glance back to discover that the enemy fleet, or what’s left of it, has gone oddly silent.
This sentence is bad and you should feel bad.

>The Dawn Star begins to turn away, much more slowly this time due to the damage it sustained, and once again locks its course on Equus Island in the distance. An orange flare rockets into the sky and ignites above it, bathing everything nearby in a soft light.
This, however, is a nice visual.

Anyway, tl;dr Rarity has to choose between shutting down her engines and allowing her quarry to escape, or having her engines destroyed and also allowing her quarry to escape. She wisely chooses the former. Meanwhile, her quarry escapes.

Anon and Celestia return to the Dawn Star. The ship has sustained minor damage to its turning system, but is otherwise fine. Rarity, meanwhile, has lost seven of her original thirteen ships, and will be unable to move for at least a day (if I understood things correctly). So, it seems they are now once again on course for Spider Skull Island, or wherever they're trying to go...

...or at least it seems that way, until the perspective changes again, and we see Rarity firing off some kind of projectile spell she has for some reason. At least this author has the sense to distribute his plot armor evenly between heroes and villains. Some kind of magic beam fires off, and hits the Dawn Star as it's making its escape. It damages a number of vital systems, and the ship begins to go down. Big Mac is not sure whether they can make it to the island just on momentum. Meanwhile, it is now past noon, and the last of the geas bands are fading from Anon's wrists.

Awesome to hear that we managed to successfully mindbreak you into reading (some) of Project Horizons. I forget the particulars of the thread, but did you consider checking out some of the other 'big five' (the most acclaimed and 'biggest' fics in the FO:E subfandom), or did you settle solely on PH?
>I forget the particulars of the thread, but did you consider checking out some of the other 'big five' (the most acclaimed and 'biggest' fics in the FO:E subfandom), or did you settle solely on PH?
I forget the titles of the other big ones, but I've been to a couple of FoE panels at conventions since doing the review of the original fic and I'll admit I'm a little curious. I might want to at least take a look at them. I find subfandoms like FoE and FiO and so forth interesting mostly because the original works were so poorly done, yet they managed to spawn these massive cult followings. I'm curious to see how some of the derivative works compare to the originals.
Definitely an interesting endeavor to give a sense of completeness to this whole critical saga. For reference/ reminder, the 'big five' (those stories successful enough to gain large enough acclaim, or considered to be 'as good as' the original by fans within the subfandom) include the original and are as follows:

>Fallout: Equestria
>Fallout Equestria: Project Horizons
>Fallout Equestria: Pink Eyes
>Fallout Equestria: Heroes
>Fallout Equestria: Murky Number Seven

All of these are available on Fimfiction obviously.
Alright, I'm back.

So anyway, the ship's a goin' down due to Rarity's wacky shenanigans. Fortunately, they can see the island of Equus on the horizon, and Big Mac thinks there's a slim chance they might be able to stay airborne long enough to reach it. The geas is now completely expended, so it's pretty much do or die time.

>The entire island is essentially a giant volcano that descends straight into the sea.
A volcano would ascend upward from the sea, not descend into it. Actually, it's a stationary land mass, it wouldn't technically be capable of doing either. I get what the author is trying to say here, but the wording is awkward. Should probably say "the island is a giant volcano that rises from the sea" or something to that effect.

Anyway, this seems like kind of an interesting location. The island is, as stated above, a giant volcano. The sides are just barren rock, but the crater of the volcano is teeming with life. Presumably this is the place that is supposed to be the wellspring of all life in Equestria.

There are some other practical concerns here. The outer slope of the volcano is steep rock that can't be scaled, and there's no way to get in from the bottom, and yada yada yada. Right now, their main focus is reaching the island before the ship kerplodes.

But oh noes! Suddenly Twilight Sparkle appears.

Now that the geas is kaput, Twilight is of course free to whisk Anon back to her dungeon of despair and have her randy way with him. Apple Bloom, the child character who is only tagging along for the sake of adventure, naturally has only a vague understanding of what the quest is actually about. So, she inadvertently says the quiet part out loud:

>Apple Bloom scratches her mane. “Huh. I don’t get it. I mean, I’m pretty sure Anon loves Celestia, but ya say he’s marryin’ you? Weird.”

This, of course, sets off Twilight's autism. She falls into the "crazy old-maid Sporkle" loop, with the twitching eyes and the unkempt mane and all that.

>Celestia closes her eyes and shakes her head. “Twilight Sparkle... it pains me to see you like this. I truly thought you were prepared, but it seems my lessons were deficient, and my judgment poor. You were not yet ready for the burden of true power or leadership, my little pony, though admittedly one rarely is.” She opens her eyes again and you see only sadness reflected in them. “I’m afraid, once this is all over, that I’ll have to take back the crown until such time as you can prove you are truly worthy of it.”
Reminder that literally every misfortune suffered by these characters thus far is due to a single yuge mistake made by Celestia. If I have any major criticisms of this story, it's that almost the entire plot stems from Celestia holding a gigantic idiot ball.

>Twilight laughs. She laughs so hard that tears spill forth from her eyes, which she wipes away with a hoof. “T-Take back the crown! That’s rich! Look at you! I mean, really, look at you! You’re POWERLESS! I can feel it! Can you even lift a teacup now, or even one of your own feathers?” She shakes her head, a few giggles still escaping her lips. “You say it pains you to see me like this?! For me to see my former teacher, the pony I looked up to above all else, in such a pathetic state, pains ME!”
I will also say, however, that I really like Twilight as the villain. In one of the previous writing threads, I gave a fairly detailed breakdown of how to characterize the M6 [ >>>/mlpol/358191 → ]. The idea is that each character's personality stems from a relatively simple core concept, and that personality gives rise to sets of positive and negative traits that can be used to place the character in different story roles. With Twilight, you have a nerdy, smart girl who is studious and detail oriented, but also prone to obsession and overreaction. In this case, the author has chosen to play up her obsessive single-mindedness and turn her into the story's villain. Granted, I haven't read a ton of these fanfictions and for all I know this has been done to death, but for my part I think it's a pretty original use of the character.

Twilight makes a good sympathetic villain. She does what a villain is supposed to do: she creates havoc and stress for the other characters, and takes morally reprehensible actions that make the reader root against her. However, her reasons for doing what she does are both understandable and in line with her canon characterization. The reader can sympathize with her while still hating her guts, and even fans of the character, who otherwise might not like seeing their favorite pony in the role of a villain, can appreciate that her actions seem like things she would actually do.

This is a character who does not handle stress well, being stressed from multiple sources. On the one hand or hoof; fucking idioms, she has a nerdy crush on Anon, which her natural autism has transformed into an all-consuming obsession. At the same time, she has had god-powers basically dumped into her lap reeeee idioms, along with the responsibility of running the entire kingdom. She tends to freak out in situations like this. Her mentor Celestia, whom she respects and is constantly trying to impress, is the one who dumped all of this responsibility on her. On some level, Twilight probably understands that Celly did this for purely selfish reasons: she wanted to abdicate her responsibility and live a carefree life, so she dumped it all on Twi. Twi simultaneously resents Celestia for doing this, while also wanting to impress her by rising to the challenge and doing a good job. Meanwhile, the love story is complicated by Celestia also being her chief romantic rival. So, Twilight is an emotional cauldron right now. While the reader may not approve of the various insane and morally questionable actions she takes, he can at least understand why she is doing these things, and sympathize with her on some level.
>Murky Number Seven
That one stands out for some reason, I think I remember hearing something about it. I might take a look at that one after PH.
Misery porn that ratchets up the grim edgy nature of the setting and one of its locations to a degree that is comical nonsense, maybe that's why.
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>She shakes her head, her perfectly coiffed purple pony princess mane remaining pristine as it flows in the wind and her crown glimmering.
This imagery contrasts with what the author gives us a few lines earlier, with her hair popping out of place as she becomes visibly stressed.

Anyway, I don't entirely grasp the details here, but it seems like once again Twilight is unable to abscond with our hero as she wishes, due to some kind of magical technicality. The barrier surrounding the island, which prevents alicorns from entering I think, means that her powers won't work. They conveniently managed to cross this barrier while the two characters were exchanging barbs, so Twilight is forced to make an exit.

Meanwhile, the ship has finally run out of spunk. It soft-crashes into the water, and Anon is able to maneuver it to the island. As I recall it had several gigantic holes punched into it and it seems like it shouldn't be seaworthy, but we'll put a pin in that for now. At any rate, since the danger seems to have temporarily passed and they still have the challenge of the island ahead of them, they sensibly decide to take a lunch break. The chapter ends here.


11 - Guidance

As the chapter opens, Anon is suddenly underwater for some reason. The author keeps us presumably deliberately confused for awhile. Celestia pulls Anon out of the water, some mild playful hijinks ensue, and we learn that they have somehow found their way to a swamp at the "southwestern edge of the Cradle."

Suddenly, a wild Luna appears, signaling that they are in a dream. She helpfully explains that, even though her alicorniness prevents her from traveling to the island in person, she can still enter their dreams and give them advice.

>Ah, now you remember why Luna scares the shit out of you. She can tap into and manipulate your dreams anytime she wants, regardless of distance. Your body shudders involuntarily at the thought of Twilight having that ability... it’d be an unending rape-tastic nightmare for sure...
I believe this was the plot for a Nightmare on Elm Street/My Little Pony crossover that Hasbro sensibly shelved. Either that or it's the premise for another one of Fluttershy's fanfics.

>“Information, huh? I guess that’s good, but if I remember all the adventure stories I read as a kid, I’m pretty sure our spiritual guide is supposed to give us some kind of artifact to help us on our quest at this point. Maybe an amulet that repels nerdy purple alicorns or something?”
I'd have to go back and line up events to make sure, but I feel like this story uses the classic "Hero's Journey" outline as its model.

>You turn and wink at Celestia, coaxing a slight smile from her.
Does she wink back? What happens in dreamland stays in dreamland, after all.

So anyway, Luna leads Anon and Celestia around the side of the dream-island to show them a lake where they can hide their boat, and tells them there's some kind of side-gate or something that's protected by magic, which they can use to enter the caldera of the volcano. She gives them some quick instructions on how to get there.

Next, Celestia and Luna have a brief conversation. It seems that Luna is still a bit miffed about Celestia abdicating the throne and dumping crazy old maid Sporkle on her to deal with. They go back and forth for awhile in that old-timey language they use with each other.

>“We understand the need to seek for joy to ease the burden,” Luna says softly. “But such joy must only be found in certain places, and in moderation; a lesson we learned well after tasting the fury of the Elements at thine own hooves. So do not entertain the fantasy, for one single moment, that we do not understand what thy true intentions were, or the emotions swirling in thy breast. They spill forth even now from the very name he calls thee, Celosia!”
The implication here is that Luna understands perfectly well that Celestia's abdication was motivated by selfish desire, presumably the specific desire for Anon's mighty member. She calls her out for this of course, but also noteworthy is that she calls her by the name "Celosia." On the next line, Anon repeats this in his mind to confirm that it was not a typo. Presumably there is some significance to this name that will be revealed later. Either that or being on the moon for 1000 years will cause a pony to forget her sister's name.

Anyway, after this the dream ends, and Anon and Celestia both wake up on the ship's deck. Turns out they nodded off for about half an hour at the controls. The others, who were watching them sleep apparently, tease them for a bit. Then, they all head off to eat lunch.

Page break. Perspective switches again, and we see Twilight returning to her flagship, which I guess is now traveling with the fleet of airships that Anon et al shot down earlier. There is a bit of physical comedy as Twilight, who still hasn't quite learned how to fly, fucks up her landing and crashes on the deck in front of her entourage. Also, Rainbow Dash is there.

>Twilight sighs and facehoofs.
I really, really hate the word "facehoof," but I've come to grudgingly accept that authors in this fandom will probably never stop using it.

Anyway, Twilight has a security meeting scheduled, but she has to take care of something first, so Dash goes on ahead of her. Rarity is there, crying and being dramatic because she failed to capture Anon, so now Twilight is going to wear that ugly dress she threatened to wear.

Since Twi is still absent, they take the opportunity to discuss how crazy she's recently become. The general consensus seems to be that, while they are still basically willing to help Twilight bag Anon, it's beginning to look like a fool's errand. It's increasingly clear to everyone except Twilight that Anon is not just playing hard to get, but is genuinely rebuffing her affections. Dash, however, seems to think he can still be won over by force.
Anyway, Twilight shows up while they're talking about her. She assures them that everything is still within her control, that she in her infinite autism has planned for every contingency so far, and her quest to gain ownership of Anon's ding-dong is proceeding on time and under budget. She also assures Rarity that she understands she did her best, and that the dress in question has been destroyed.

She now lays out the next phase of her plan. The barrier around the island blocks alicorns from entering, which means she won't be able to go there herself. However, it does not block ordinary ponies, so she plans to send an army in to bring Anon back the old-fashioned way.

>The butter yellow pegasus trembles a bit for emphasis.
This is an example of something I've noticed this author doing quite often. I've been letting him get away with it partly because he's doing a much better job of entertaining me than our previous authors have, and partly because I just recently discovered that this is even a problem. Someone brought it to my attention when reading one of my stories, and now it's something I look for when reading other people's work.

Basically, the issue is that this author tends to refer to his characters by description rather than by name: the "butter-yellow pegasus" (Fluttershy) or the "pristine white unicorn" (Rarity), etc. If the character is just being introduced and we don't know their name yet, this is fine. It's also fine if you're trying to work in a description of the character's appearance without breaking the flow of your narration. However, once you've established who the character is and what they look like, there is no need to keep referring to your characters this way; in fact it can get obnoxious and confusing if you do. In this case, it's been well established that Fluttershy is a butter-yellow pegasus, so there is no need to refer to her as such every few lines.

Again, I've been letting this slide because it's a rule I've only recently discovered, that I've also been called out on myself, so I feel a bit awkward chastising someone else for it. However, I have noticed that this author does it quite often, and it's probably worth calling attention to at this point. Disclaimer: as I've said numerous times before, while I do consider my talents to be above-average for most of fimfiction, I am by no means an expert on writing, nor do I claim to be. Part of the reason I enjoy doing these analyses is that I learn stuff too.

For further reading on this subject:

Anywho, Twilight continues expositing the details of her nefarious scheme to jump Anon's bones. It seems she's thought of just about everything. Celestia's being reduced to ordinary unicorn status means that she's no longer a threat, and even though they are searching for a stone that will restore her alicorn powers, she won't be able to use it until she is beyond the barrier of the island. Thus, all that Twilight really has to do is surround the island with whatever ships she has left and send in a pegasus squad to retrieve her errant fuccboi.

So, all that's left for her to do is to dispatch her army. She puts Rainbow Dash in charge of this. Also, she gives her a magical anklet that glows brighter the closer she gets to Anon. It also improves her speed. There is apparently a side effect, but Dash leaves before Twi can tell her what it is. Presumably this will remain a mystery until it becomes plot-relevant. Also, as an added enticement, Twi promises to get Dash an all-access backstage pass at the next Wonderbolts show if she succeeds in her mission.

There is a bit more comedy, and then the chapter ends. I've still got about 2000 characters left, but this is probably a good stopping point for today. I'll do some more of this later tonight.

12 - The Altar

We rejoin Anon and Co. at the cove that Luna showed them in dreamland. It appears that the airship still functions as a watership for some reason, and they were able to find the place okay. Celestia is in the process of...doing something. Trying to work some kind of juju magic to get the gate open I guess. There's some rather overstated hammy emotional interaction between her and Anon, and yada yada yada she speaks the incantation to open the gate.

>“Cotton candy.” She speaks the words slowly and deliberately, as if reciting an incantation. This must be the ‘keyword’ Luna mentioned... wait, what?
>“Really?” you stammer. “THAT’S the keyword?!”
>“It was his favorite,” she says with a sad smile before stepping away.
Celestia seems to have more of a past than we've been led to believe. The author tastefully drops this subtle hint, and then moves on with the story.

Anyway, the "gate" turns out to be some kind of magical geyser that lifts them up, carries them over the lip of the volcano, and drops them down into the caldera. After getting their bearings, they decide that Anon and Celestia will go off to look for the Sorcerer's Stone (or whatever), while the rest of them stay here and work on fixing the ship.

The geography here is a little confusing. If I'm understanding it correctly, the magic geyser dropped them into a jungle that used to be a wetland, but the wetland dried up, and also there's a lake here, which is where the airship was set down...whatever. They use the airship's lifeboat to cross to the jungle (they all go together, because I guess Big Mac needs to chop down some trees in order to fix the airship).

So now, they go trudging through the jungle. There is some mild joking around, and we get a bit more explanation about how exactly these Orbs of Ascension are obtained. Basically, the seeker has to go to an altar and meditate, and some sort of magical hoopajoo jimjams the hoosafudge, and whimmy wham wham wozzle an orb appears, which only the person who summoned it can touch (these are all highly technical terms, btw). However, before it can be used, the seeker must carry it through thirteen separate magical gates, which charge it up with whatever magical jizzjams are needed to turn it into an Orb of Ascension.

It's probably easier if I let Celestia's fat ass explain it:

>“Yes,” Celestia continues with a tired sigh. “But even so, it is necessary to visit them all in order to fully empower the Orb. Each gate marks the wellhead of one of the world’s thirteen magical leylines, and as such, when the stone passes underneath the gate, it becomes empowered by the leyline’s magic. That all thirteen lines originate from Equus Island is what produces its powerful magical field, and also what makes the island, quite literally, the center of our world and the very source of magic itself.”

As an added bonus, we get some unsolicited headcanon about Princess Cadance:

>“Well,” Celestia replies, “you may not know this, but she was born a pegasus. Her family, seeking to increase their station, paid an adventurer a handsome sum to retrieve an Orb for their daughter, but he failed to visit more than half the gates before returning, resulting in Cadance becoming a lowborn alicorn. Lowborns were much more common in the past, but ponies eventually realized that the risk involved was not worth the reward they obtained. Truly completing an Orb of Ascension is incredibly difficult and exceedingly rare, so you can imagine my surprise when Anon stumbled into my throne room one day with a fully empowered Orb in his hands.”

Okey-dokey. Anyway, they eventually come to a grove of trees that look suitable for chopping. Anon and Celestia continue off into the jungle, while the rest of them commence to lumberjacking. Apparently Anon and Celly need to get to the altar before sunset; I'm not sure why this is or if it was mentioned somewhere earlier. I'm assuming it has something to do with the way the magic works. In any case, Anon is cautiously optimistic that they will have enough time to maneuver:

>She’s absolutely right. You got extremely lucky when the pursuing airship fleet decided to discharge their engines. It’s bought you the several days you’ll need to retrieve the Orb, but if you squander this opportunity you’ll no doubt be contending with the Royal Guard in addition to the Trials of Equus, and your odds of getting through this with your purity intact will plummet even further.
The implication here seems to be that Anon has once again underestimated Twilight's autismo resourcefulness, and assumes that they will have a few days head start before they need to worry about pursuers. We, however, know from the last scene that this will not be the case.

Anyway, Anon and Celly have another borderline-flirty moment, and then Celestia suggests that he ride her, which is actually quite practical, since they have a lot of ground to cover and she can fly. However, for some reason, she doesn't fly, she just walks. She still has her wings, right?

In any case it doesn't matter, because all of a sudden Rainbow Dash out of nowhere. Apparently, thanks to her new bracelet, she is now so fast that she managed to outrun the rest of the squadron she was leading.

>“Oh. Well, yeah, there’s that too, but I was thinking more along the lines of if Skittles and Squiggletail are here, it means Butter Squeak won’t be far behind. Out of the goon squad trio she was the most annoying by far.” You rub your eyes and address the speedy pegasus. “The answer to your question is no, by the way. What the hell is wrong with you?”
Yeah, the "lavender unicorn" business in this story is pretty severe. Anon references three separate characters in this paragraph alone, without using a single one of their names. If I were giving this author formal notes, this is probably the first thing I'd call attention to. The nicknames are funny, but it makes the text a little hard to follow at times.
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>I really, really hate the word "facehoof," but I've come to grudgingly accept that authors in this fandom will probably never stop using it.

Nothing this down so I can add it to the list of autistic fandomisms I am putting into my story to make you suffer. I hope you like ponies saying 'buck' instead of 'fuck' as well.
Noting*, whoops.

>Great... looks like Twilight made Speedysnooze an artifact that lets her tap into the Speed Force. You lean down and whisper into Sun Horse’s ear, “Uh... what the heck do we do now?”

Anyway, there's some back and forth between the three of them. To her credit, Rainbow Dash does not seem overtly hostile to either Anon or Celestia; she's clearly just doing this to help Twilight. However, her competitive nature combined with her whole "loyalty" thing means that she's likely to be stubborn. She tries to convince Anon to come along willingly, which he refuses.

They attempt some subtle trickery to try to outwit and outrun her, but in both instances they fail. Eventually...Rainbow Dash ends up challenging Celestia to fisticuffs. Hoofsticuffs. Whatever. fucking idioms.

And then...this happens. It's probably easier if I just dump the text in verbatim:

>The pegasus does a few circles in the air before landing on a patch of barren earth. She puffs up her chest, takes in a deep breath, and begins to speak:

>Chapter XIV, Scene VIII

>Int. Treebrary Foyer

>The sun is setting outside the small town of Ponyville as another day comes to a close. TWILIGHT SPARKLE, a unicorn, trots around the dwelling to begin lighting the candles for the evening. The door opens and ANONYMOUS, a human and TWILIGHT’s lover, enters.

>TWILIGHT: “Oh, Anon, you’re back! How was work?”

>ANONYMOUS: “Fine, but it was hard to focus today because I couldn’t get your delicious plot out of my thoughts. Have I ever told you that it’s ten times more luscious and toned than Applejack’s?”

>TWI: *giggles* “Yes, all the time!”

>TWILIGHT moves to light another candle but ANONYMOUS quickly picks her up and holds her in his strong human arms.

>TWI: “W-What are you doing, Anon?”

>ANON: “You’re so cute, Twilight... even cuter than your friend Fluttershy. And you’re beautiful too, like Rarity, but way better and less bitchy. I... I want you now.”

>TWI: “Oh, Anon!”


>Rainbow sits there, completely mortified at what just came out of her mouth. You’re in about the same state, entirely unsure what to make of it.

So...uh...yeah. It appears that this is the "side effect" that was mentioned earlier. Apparently, there is an entire subgenre of human-on-pony romance fiction out there presumably 90% of which has been written by Fluttershy, and Rainbow Dash's bracelet makes her...compulsively read it out loud. Or compose it on the spot. Or...something. Yeah, this is a pretty weird twist.

>ANONYMOUS carries TWILIGHT to her bedroom and places her upon her super cool looking star patterned sheets.

>TWI: “Anon, what are we going to do on the bed?”

>ANON: “We shall make love, Twilight. In the missionary position, as is the human tradition.”

What, no *POMF*? Fucking amateur hour. Tell Fluttershy and/or Buttersqueak that I want my money back.

Anywho, Rainbow Dash is now...apparently catatonic with embarrassment...and then...her squadron shows up...and...they decide to...take her back to the ship so the doctor can examine her. Yeah. Pretty weird twist, but it seems that once again the day is saved, thanks to Fluttershy's cringy fanfiction or whatever. I guess.

>You’ve experienced a lot of crazy shit in your time here, but this particular encounter has left you absolutely speechless.
Yeah, that about sums it up.

Sooo...since it seems that Rainbow Dash has been defeated for the time being, Anon and Sunbutt continue along their merry way.

>You begin walking in the direction of the altar once more, side by side. Instead of the pensive silence from before, Celestia hums a gentle tune which eventually starts to raise your spirits.
I'm still not quite sure why they're walking instead of flying. My understanding is that Celestia lost her alicorn powers but still technically has her wings. In fact, I'm certain of it, because her wings were specifically mentioned earlier in the chapter. Why not just fly to the altar? This seems like kind of a logic issue.

>A chuckle escapes you as the image of Rainbow explaining this episode to a therapist pony enters your mind. Celestia takes notice and nudges you with a wing.
Yeah, I suspect that we'll all have something to talk about with our therapists by the time this adventure is over. Also: the text just explicitly mentioned that she has wings. Why are they not flying right now?

Anyway, page break. It looks like they made it to the altar by sundown. The magical hoopajoo fires up, and Anon gets his stone. Looks like all they have to do now is pass through the seventeen gates of Koonga-Del-Rey, or whatever the flying fuck.

Since it is now past sundown, they decide to make camp for the night. They whip up some stew and have a casual dinner. When they finish, Celestia seems to be in a pensive mood. When Anon prods her about it, she decides that now is as good a time as any to lay her entire tragic backstory on him.

Unfortunately, we only get the short version. I'll do my best to sum up what the author gives us:

A long time ago, Celestia used to be an Earth Pony named Celosia. She appears to have lived on this island with her two friends. She refers to these friends as "brother" and "sister," though they don't seem to be related by blood. "Sister" is strongly implied to be Luna, but the identity of "Brother" remains unclear.

Something happened. It's not clear what, but it seems to have resulted in Celosia gaining an ascension orb, which she used to become an alicorn. Whatever happened, it caused a seismic shift that resulted in the formation of the present world. It also seems that "Brother" died somehow, and that Celestia's actions are to blame.

I'm not quite sure where the author is planning to go with all of this. I assume we'll get more information later on, but the problem here is that now the main character has information that we don't, and it affects his relationship with Celestia. Oh, also: once Celestia finishes spilling her guts, they kiss. So I guess they're more than friends now.

13 - Road of Trials - I

This chapter begins a three-part series, with each chapter comprising a single day. It sounds like running around to all thirteen of the gates they need to visit is a task that will take three days.

>It’s not the rays of dawn that awaken you as they have so many times in the past due to your habit of forgetting to close your blinds, but that’s not too surprising.
This sentence is bad and you should feel bad.

So anyway, in a shocking plot twist, it seems that Anon has abruptly changed his horsefucking stance from anti to pro. Celestia's tragic backstory seems to have been the cool island song that finally melted his icy heart, and they appear to be boyfriend and girlfriend now. Anyway, they wake up together, and spend a bit of time cuddling and kissing and whatnot.

>In several minutes you’ve packed up camp and are on your way toward the first of Equus Island’s thirteen Wayshrine Gates, munching on some energy bars while you walk.
Wait, where did he get energy bars? Did they hit up an equine 7-11 before their airship crashed?

Also, I still don't understand why they don't just fly to the gates and save a massive amount of time. This is actually a pretty significant plot hole: time is of the essence here, since Twilight clearly intends to take Anon back to Equestria by force, and Celestia doesn't have the power to protect him. They need to get this orb thing taken care of as soon as possible. I can understand the author wanting to make them walk in order to draw the adventure out, but there needs to be some plausible in-world reason for it. If Anon just hopped on Celestia's back and she flew them around to the thirteen gates, they could probably get this whole three-day challenge banged out before lunchtime.

We've already seen Rainbow Dash and her underlings flying around, so we know that there is nothing in the caldera limiting pegasus flight. We know that Celestia still has a pair of wings, and I don't recall hearing anything about them no longer being functional. Anon has ridden on Celestia's back before, both on the ground and in the air, so there is an established precedent. As a matter of fact, they just did this a couple of chapters ago, during the airship fight, and I don't remember anything about Celestia being injured or rendered flightless since then. There is no logical reason why they shouldn't be able to just fly to the thirteen gates, and every logical reason why they would want to. Unless someone can point out some glaringly obvious thing that I missed, I have little choice but to call shenanigans here.

Anyway, whatever. They make it to the first arch without incident. Apparently, each one of these things is a magic gateway that teleports to a pocket dimension, where a trial will need to be completed. The first of these trials is called "The Subterranean Waterfall."

As the name would suggest, they are transported into a cave containing a waterfall. Their task is apparently to climb up the wet cliffside without slipping and falling off into a bottomless abyss. As one might expect, this is much more challenging if you happen to be a horse. Fortunately, Anon has already been through all of these challenge-areas once before. In this case, he had the foresight to drive some rock-climbing anchors into the walls before he left, and to bring along a harness to hoist Celestia up as they go.

>The sight of the sunlight dancing upon the falling droplets of water is mesmerizing. It’s almost like someone’s pouring a bunch of diamonds into the chasm below. You look up to the top of the falls; your ultimate destination.
>“I’m guessing we can’t fly up, huh?”
Seriously, it's bothersome that this author seems to remember only intermittently that one of his characters can fly.

Anyway, as they climb, Anon thinks back to their conversation the previous night, and the author sketches in some more substantial details of Celestia's backstory:

Celestia, as we learned earlier, used to be called Celosia. She was an earth pony, who had the ability to make flowers grow wherever she walked. Incidentally, this name scheme is actually rather clever: "Celosia" is a type of flowering plant, so the name simultaneously corresponds to her abilities and bears a phonetic similarity to the name she ends up with when she ascends. Anyway, it seems that when she was younger, the three pony castes still existed as they do presently, though there was much more strife between them. They seemed to have stronger versions of the powers that they currently possess: the unicorns controlled the rising and setting of the sun, the pegasi controlled the weather, and the earth ponies had the power to make plants grow.

>The legends of the Cradle were older than time itself. It was a place held in both fear and reverence, built and blessed by our progenitors. Many times throughout history had the tribes sought to uncover the fabled great magic hidden there, but despite sending numerous expeditions, which often clashed against one another, the great magic was never found. All three tribes had given up searching before I was even born, determined that the rumored magic was nothing more than myth and devoting their resources to other pursuits.
I had thought that Celestia grew up in this caldera, but it seems I got that detail wrong. I think the idea is that this volcano-island is actually at the center of an inland sea contained within another island. I'm not 100% clear on whether that island or the volcano-island is called Equus; it's a point the author has been a little murky on. I think Equus is the surrounding island, and the volcano is called The Cradle. In any event, it seems that Celestia and the ponies of her era lived on the regular island, while the volcano island was some kind of sacred magic place.

Incidentally, the timeline here corresponds with the time period of the founding myth given in the show: Chancellor Puddinghead and the Windigoes and all that.
"Buck" in place of "fuck" doesn't bother me too much, oddly enough. I think I've used it myself a couple of times. Just steer clear of "squee" and we shouldn't have any problems.

Anyway, Celosia, being the most powerful flower-grower in all of earth-pony-land, is selected by Chancellor Puddinghead to journey to The Cradle and bring back the magic of something-or-other. So, she crosses over to the volcano and wanders around for a few weeks, until eventually she meets someone. The flashback ends here.

As an aside, I like the way this backstory is being fed to us in small, digestible chunks, rather than in giant infodumps as we've seen in previous stories. I wish more authors understood how to do this.

Anywho, the daydream ends, and we learn that Anon and Celestia were able to climb up the waterfall without incident. That's 1/13 trials complete.

>Together, you step outside the cave and into the warm sun, and in an instant you find yourselves back on Equus, just beyond the first gate.
Reee, now it's sounding like the volcano is called Equus after all. In that case, I have no idea what the surrounding island is called, or if there even is a surrounding island. Oh, whatever; I guess the geography isn't that important.

There is a page break, and they arrive at the next arch. Once again, the author seems to have a selective memory about Celestia's having wings, because apparently this trial involves crossing an ocean, and Celestia suggests that they fly over it.

Anyway, whatever. The next trial is "The Great Ocean and Horseshoe Island."

This trial turns out to be kind of a nothingburger. There's a huge ocean, and an island, and that's about it. Since they flew over the ocean, the "trial" mostly involves walking across the island until they come to a rune that takes them back. Anon even remarks on this, and Celestia explains that the location of each trial passes through one of the leylines of the world, and their goal is just to gather the magic of the leyline. Well, whatever; that's 2/13 down.

Next up: "Desert Ruins."

This one is a little more interesting. They arrive in a vast desert populated by giant Tremors-esque carnivorous sandworms. However, there's a twist: instead of sensing vibrations in the ground, they detect shadows, which means that flying is out. I feel like there's a little bit of a logic hole here, since even if they walk they are still casting shadows, but whatever; we'll put a pin in that for now. They can't fly because sand-worms, and they can't wait for nightfall because crazy old maid Sporkle is still after Anon's junk.

So, they have to go trudging across the hot, sandy desert. Trudge trudge trudge. Unfortunately, the sandworms start chasing them, so they have to trudge a little faster. Trudgetrudgetrudge. A short but decently-executed chase scene follows, Celestia defeats the sandworms by kicking over a pillar at just the right moment, they find the rune, and the trial is complete.

Next up: "Terror Caves."

This place is a network of caves populated by diamond dogs. They skulk about for a bit, trying to avoid the dogs. Skulk skulk skulk. Meanwhile, Anon starts daydreaming again and we are fed another piece of backstory from the previous evening:

>A twist of fate crashed into me in the form of a dark sapphire blue pegasus with the rather funny name of Gloomy Plume.
If I'm following this correctly, I'm assuming that this is the pony who eventually becomes Luna.

Anywho, Gloomy Plume turns out to be a pegasus deserter who ran away from her tribe because she wasn't interested in war or politics, she just wanted to study the stars. It seems that her wings were stronger than those of the average pegasus, and because of that Commander Hurricane drafted her into the army. She didn't like it there, so she ran away to The Cradle, or Equus Island, or whatever it's called exactly. She and Celosia become friends, and hang out on the island together. Celosia nicknames her "Lulu."

Meanwhile, back in the present, the diamond dogs have found them.

>With a sickening crack, Celestia bucks the sentry unconscious. She even put a damn dent in his stupid looking helmet... you make a mental note never to startle her from behind.
So I guess surprise buttsex is out of the question? I suddenly have conflicted feelings about traveling to Equestria.

Anyway, good news is that they've found the exit rune. Bad news is that it's in the middle of the diamond dogs' mess hall. For some reason the rune doesn't seem to affect the dogs, not sure what's up with that, but we'll put a pin in that for now. The leader of the pack steps up, and for a moment it looks like a boss fight. Then, suddenly:

>‘Leader’ perks his ears up. “Scratchings? Oh... oh no...”
>The scratching gets even louder, a nearby wall collapses, and giant fucking spiders begin streaming into the room.
Why would these dogs choose to live here?

So yeah, the room suddenly fills up with giant-ass spiders. While the spiders attack the diamond dogs, Celestia and Anon hop onto the rune and make their escape.

>Yeah, turns out the Terror Caves were aptly named after all.
>Fucking spiders...
Seriously, their realtor must have been laughing all the way to the bank.

Next up: "Forgotten Outpost."

This trial is in some kind of limbo dimension, where stone ruins float around in a black void filled with lightning. They have to make their way from stone to stone, dodging the lightning and so forth and so on. Anon wonders who built this weird-ass place and why, and Celestia explains that the "progenitors," some mysterious race that existed before ponies arrived on the scene, had built most of these places. Presumably the gates and the leylines and all of that were constructed by them as well.

Originally these floating islands were blocked off by a series of puzzle-locks, each more challenging than the last, which made this trial a bit of a doozie for Celestia and Luna when they came through here. However, when Anon was here, he didn't realize they were puzzles, so he just took them apart with his Leatherman tool. So, they breeze through this area in fairly short order.
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When they emerge from the gate they see that the stars are out, so they decide to call it quits for the evening. That's 5/13 trials complete; not bad for day one, even if most of the trials were pretty straightforward. They make camp, have dinner, and hunker down for a night of passionate, rugged horse sex. End chapter.

14 - Road of Trials II

>The journey to each Wayshrine is becoming longer and longer as each subsequent gate is further away than the last.
Again, is there any particular reason they're walking to these shrines instead of flying to them?

>She lands a safe distance from the sixth shrine and you prepare to dismount, only to be stopped by a raised wing.
Huh. You know, it's starting to look like maybe they have been flying this entire time. This is a detail the author should probably have made a little clearer; most of the time the text doesn't specify.

Anyway, the next place is called: "Forsaken Shoals."

>Small, wispy white clouds are scattered across the bright blue sky, still tinged with the lingering colors of dawn. A peninsula linked to the mainland rests across the ocean waters far in the distance. But easily the most striking aspect of the scenery is the constantly shifting sandbar, visible just below the water’s surface, which connects your beach with the far peninsula. The shifting currents constantly distort it, creating a silver road through the water that dances like the aurora of the northern skies...
In general the prose in this story is so-so; it's not great, but it's probably good enough for fanfiction, and nowhere near as bad as some of the other stories we've read. However, I will note that descriptions of natural areas is one of this author's strong suits.

Anyway, this lagoon is inhabited by giant crabs, which apparently gave Anon some trouble the last time he was here. However, once again, Celestia's flight ability downgrades this trial to a mere errand. Nothing much happens here, mostly it's just Anon and Celestia having another cute and comfy moment together.

Next: "Labyrinthine Woods."

As the name would suggest, these woods are quite labyrinthine. Anon and Celly wander around for awhile, occasionally getting manhandled by rape-vines. The subject of the mysterious "brother" pony comes up during conversation, which segues into yet another flashback.

It's probably easiest to just pull the description of this guy directly from the text:

>He was an older unicorn stallion, obviously entering his twilight years, though with a certain stubbornness that indicated he was only as old as he felt. His brown, somewhat faded coat, black mane and tail with streaks of grey, and almost comically bushy eyebrows presented an odd dichotomy between a venerated elder and somepony you weren’t certain you should trust, and his odd cutie mark of a four leaf clover drawn upon the pages of a spellbook did little to reflect upon the nature of his character. He appeared out of the blue one day as we were walking toward the caldera’s southern edge, and he seemed almost as surprised to find us as we were to find him.

Anyway, this guy's name is Clover, and we soon learn that he is the very same Clover who was portrayed by Twilight in the Hearth's Warming Eve play about the founding of Equestria (S2 episode whatever). It seems that he was cast out by Princess Platinum for being a peace-mongering hippie who kept trying to bring the three pony tribes together. So, he came to this island to live in peace and tranquility and stuff. He met up with a couple of bozos named Celosia and Lulu, and the rest is history. The three of them became friends, and as soon as their friendship reached the "is magic" stage, a magical column of fire appeared and created the altar that we visited in Chapter 12.

Anyway, the flashback ends. Celestia comes across some old carvings that Clover made, which help them find their way through the woods. They reach the return rune without incident, and then it's on to the next place.

And the next place is: "Bloodfeast Slaughterfields Retirement Community."

We've heard this place referenced several times throughout the text. Basically, this is a nursing home retirement community for minotaurs, which for some reason also contains one of the leylines that control the world's flow of magic. As you might expect from this description, this segment is pretty much pure comic relief. Anon poses as an orderly, hides Celestia somehow (the text is not 100% clear on how they do this exactly, but I think it involves her hiding inside a cart he wheels around), and tries to make his way through to the exit rune. Along the way, he gets stopped by an old lady minotaur who attempts to seduce him. Apparently, this lady was the reason this particular trial was so traumatizing for Anon the last time around. Celestia comes to his rescue, and together they make their escape.

Next place: "Road of Fire."

Once again, we'll just go with the description the author provides:

>This place is a vision of hell. The radiating heat of the lava pouring down the side of the distant volcano is debilitating, robbing you of your strength. Each step must be careful and measured in order to ensure that your next footfall will be on ancient igneous rock instead of 1000 degree black lava. The earth rumbles and a nearby vent erupts, spewing deep red magma and superheated rock behind you. It’s impossible to predict where the next one will be, and honestly it feels like it’s up to pure random chance whether you’ll live through this or not...

As they cross this fiery hellscape, Anon recaps his time spent in Equestria. He recalls initially befriending Pinkie Pie and Twilight, and how Twilight's advances slowly went from being cute to completely out of control. He laments not nipping it in the bud, but also suspects they might have ended up at the same point either way due to her severe autism. Then, a fiery vent explodes, and Celestia injures her wing protecting him.
I kinda have drifted off in terms of care for this story. Kinda similar to how I drifted off when it came to that "Sun and the Rose" story. This is fine btw, not every story needs to appeal to me nor do I need to deny that it didn't captivate me. But on that subject those two stories are kinda similar in that our mc is a male human that ends up, despite swearing they aren't into hoers from the beginning, dating Celestia. You know which story I'm talking about right? The one with the knight coming to Equestria and stuff.

What do you think so far? Could you compare them with each other? You seem to be more positive towards this story for longer than that one iirc, which I really might not. I think you, as you have tendency to in these review series to like the story at the beginning but later think it's trash. I think that Sun and rose thingie was one of them. Correct me if I'm wrong. It's all a blur. I'm curious on what you think about the pair in comparison to each other.
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Despite Celestia's injury, they make it out of the lake of fire more or less intact. Anon bandages up Celestia's wing because he apparently has a first-aid kit on him somewhere, and then they proceed onward to: "Progenitor Graveyard."

This place is the exact opposite of the last place: an arctic ice field somewhere in the frozen north, or south, or wherever. It sounds like they have about 100 miles of tundra they need to traverse, but fortunately Celestia's injury doesn't stop her from galloping across it. As they go, Anon begins to daydream again, and we get the next chunk of Celestia's tragic backstory:

When we last left Celosia, Lulu and Clover, they had just somehow friendship-magicked an altar into existence. The altar grants each of them a magical stone, but they aren't quite sure how to activate the magic.

At this point, Celosia is forced to confess that the whole reason she came to this island was to find this powerful magic and bring it back to the earth pony tribe, so they could use it to subjugate the unicorns and pegasi. However, she explains that she no longer wishes to do this, because friendship is magic and so forth. After discussing the matter for awhile, they conclude that since they've gotten to be such good friends, and since none of them were ever all that enthused about helping their respective tribes win the war in the first place, they should activate the magic stones and then use the power to become all-powerful demigods who rule the world with an iron hoof unite the three pony tribes.

Over a period of two and a half years, through extensive trial and error, they cross through the thirteen gates and charge up their orbs. Even still, they can't quite figure out how to get the dang things to actually work. However, when Lulu willingly gives her orb to Clover, something happens that solves the puzzle for them, although we are going to have to wait a bit for the specifics because it trails off here.

Anyway, back in the present, they arrive within sight of the exit rune. However, Celestia seems to have overextended herself, and collapses. Anon makes a fuss, but she seems to be more or less okay. He helps her to the rune, and then they are back on Equus Island again. They have dinner, Anon fusses over her some more, and they go to sleep. End chapter.

13 - Road of Trials - III

>Again, you’ve packed up camp and are off at dawn. You can’t fly to the next gates now, so the travel time between each one will be longer than usual.
Yeah, it looks like they actually were flying between these gates. I guess that explains how they were able to do 10/13 in two days. However, the author really should have made it a bit clearer. In the earlier chapters, it was stated that Anon was riding on Celestia's back, but whether they were flying or riding was left ambiguous. Either that or my reading comprehension sucks; sometimes it's a tossup. However, I don't think I'm wrong here.

Anyway, they make it to the next gate, step through, and find themselves in: "Estrus Valley."

Here is the author's description:

>A great, verdant valley appears before your eyes. Grassy inclines turn to steep, rocky mountains on each side. A calm river weaves its way along the single, well-worn road, providing plenty of pure water to drink. The sun is warm, but not overly hot. In essence, it’s perfectly relaxing.
Sounds tranquil. I wonder what horrible and presumably erotic surprises are lurking just around the corner?

>Yeah, good old changelings. They sure love their... well, their love, and they’ll go to any lengths to get it.
Ohhhhh, okay. I see where this is going.

Before I get too deep into this one, I should probably clear up another minor mistake I made earlier. I was initially under the impression that the gateways led into pocket dimensions that existed solely for the purpose of the trials. This is actually not accurate; the gates do indeed teleport to other places, but they are real places that exist in the same world as Equestria and the island of Equus. The point of the gateways is that they lead to places where these "leylines" cross, which enables someone holding one of the stones to charge it up with magic and shit. The author actually cleared this up pretty early on, I just haven't mentioned it.

Anyway, this particular leyline runs through a valley that connects two pony cities. In the middle of this valley is a Changeling hive. The Changelings strategically placed their hive in this valley because any pony traveling between the two cities would not be able to avoid it, thus they could ambush wayward ponies and feed on their love. However, the advent of air travel (which I'm assuming means balloons and/or zeppelins and/or airships for non-pegasi) rendered this strategy obsolete. So, in the CURRENT YEAR, the only ponies who enter this hive are the ones who are specifically looking for what the Changelings have to offer. If you take my meaning.

So, Anon shows up at this hive because he literally has to pass through it to magic up his stone. Immediately upon entering, he is propositioned by 200 clones of Bon Bon. Celestia predictably cockblocks him, which may or may not be what he actually wanted, since it seems that his attitudes on horse poon have changed since the last time he was here. However, she is now acting a little strange:

>So, on a related note, when would you like to consummate our relationship? Because I’d really like to do that soon.

> So you’ll find the time to face the Trials of Equus, and run from being forcibly wed to a demonstrably crazy pony, but you won’t find the time to rut me? Am I that ugly to you?

>“What? What the hell’s gotten into you?!”
>“Nothing! That’s the problem!”

Couple of things. For one, I actually thought they had consummated. It wasn't stated, but was heavily implied. Two, there are a couple of possibilities here: either she's a changeling, or she's in heat. I guess we'll find out which it is momentarily.
> But on that subject those two stories are kinda similar in that our mc is a male human that ends up, despite swearing they aren't into hoers from the beginning, dating Celestia.
>What do you think so far? Could you compare them with each other?
The similarities between this one and Sun & Rose had occurred to me as well, I was thinking of doing a comparison a little later on. I can go over it a little bit here.

It's been a long time since I did S&R. I do remember thinking it had some potential, but the idea wasn't quite there yet, and the execution was poor enough that I just couldn't give it a solid thumbs-up. I think I did that one right after either Past Sins or Friendship is Optimal, and I liked it better than either one of those, but at the same time they aren't high bars to pass.

Here is what I think this current story has going for it.

Part of it is just purely subjective taste: this is a lighthearted action-adventure tale that is also half a romantic comedy and at least 30% shitpost, and that just happens to be one kind of thing that I enjoy. This author makes his share of mistakes, and I might be going a bit easier on him than I have on others simply because I enjoy what he's writing about (I probably did a bit of that with The Best Night Ever as well). At the same time though, this story also has some objective good points that it deserves credit for.

For the most part, I find this to be a well-plotted story. The beginning is admittedly a bit slow, but as soon as the adventure kicks off, I find that the pacing is pretty solid, events happen about when they are supposed to happen, there aren't any weird digressions or extraneous meandering unnecessary subplots like we saw in some of those 100k+ word monstrosities that we read. Some of the humor is a little cringe, but it's cringe at a level I find acceptable for a story that is fundamentally about a man fucking a cartoon horse. This guy clearly either spent some time learning to properly plot a novel, or else he has a significantly above-average instinct for how it ought to be done.

As I said, his actual writing is kind of meh. His prose I can take or leave: he can be really eloquent when describing the outdoors or nature, but most of the time this story reads like a slightly-above-average greentext. This doesn't really count against it, though. Ideally you want to be both, but if you have to pick one, it's better to be good at building a story and bad at writing than the other way around unless you just want to write technical manuals or something like Iceman. This guy is a pretty good storyteller and a passable writer, which by the standards of what I've read on fimfiction so far pretty much makes him Shakespeare.

By contrast, Sun & Rose started out with some good ideas, but wasn't really able to develop any of them well. The premise I thought was interesting and could have made a really good story: Celestia wanders through the EqG portal into medieval England and becomes human, gets bonked on the head and loses her memory, then ends up getting married to some guy from that time period. Then, she regains her memory and goes back to Equestria, and her husband follows her in, but has to contend with the fact that his waifu is now a horse for crying out loud. It could have been a very enjoyable romance/adventure story, but...it just wasn't.

The main character, as I recall, was sort of a mishmash of a lot of half-formed ideas. He had kind of a complicated backstory that wasn't fully explained; his mother was a peasant and his father was a nobleman, somehow they wound up married despite that being pretty unlikely back then, and their lowborn-bastard son became a high ranking knight somehow, despite that being even less likely...I remember being confused by a lot of it. Also, the guy was meant to be kind of a sad, tragic figure, but again, the author didn't develop him all that well, so he came across as kind of unintentionally comical at best and a boring drip at worst. The author didn't really put enough thought into why this guy was so sad and traumatized, he just sort of assumed that anyone from this time period would naturally be this way, because life in the middle ages was rough compared to today. His background was a little too generalized to make him sympathetic, and he didn't have any other noteworthy characteristics, so mostly I just found him dull.

As I recall, the characterization of Celestia was decent, and I found her generally likable. There were also a couple of other characters in the story who could have been interesting but were severely underutilized: I think the main character had a female pony friend that could have played a bigger role, and the villain, Chucky Larms, despite having literally the worst pony name I've ever heard, actually had a lot of potential that was never realized. Plus, the story veered off in some pretty weird and stupid directions OMG RATS!!!1!.

On the technical side, the writing was just god-awful. The guy misspelled common words and fucked up really basic grammatical shit like all the time. On top of that, he tried way too hard to gussy up his prose. The effect was like spray-painting a turd with gold paint and then decorating it with glitter. The writing style just screams "babby's first writing project," but he tries to cover it up with badly-written purple prose, which just makes it scream even louder, in excruciating pain no less. I could forgive a lot of it if the story itself was better, but...it just had too many problems. If he spent a little time learning and practicing and then did a rewrite of the same idea, it might turn out much better, but as it is it's pretty disappointing.

Exchange is technically better written and better plotted, and it doesn't try to take itself anywhere near as seriously as Sun & Rose did. All in all it's a much more enjoyable read.
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GG, could I tempt you with a short 6k words story to review? Dw, I know no means no. Probably...^^ I really like this story: https://www.fimfiction.net/story/432814/mine-is-dorkier-than-yours
>Flutters eyelashs hard -- I'm about to take off
Interesting take. Hehe, I knew you'd mention the rats.

I have something more to say but I'm soul-searching for the truth of me. ^^
Estrus valley is a psychologocal challenge for every mare. The milk carton, still attached to her horn, is funneling sexy Anon thoughts into her brain.
I feel a bit bad. Felt like I just waltz in here telling you to drop your current review for my story. Sorry about that. Just see it as an addition to your list of thing to review would you.^^
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No trouble. Can't say I'll get to it soon as I need to finish this one up first and I've been neglecting the project of late, but I can certainly have a look at it in the semi-near future.
Take your time, Glim. I'm just happy that you're doing it at all, even if it means I have to revisit this disgusting shithole occasionally for updates.

Thanks again for the review, based horsefucker literati.
Glim Glam.png
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Alright, it's a new year. I should probably get back to this and try to finish it up before 2024 becomes 2025.

>Thanks again for the review, based horsefucker literati.
No probbum fren, glad you're enjoying it.

If this is an original drawing, I love it.

Anyway, when we last left our intrepid heroes, they were being accosted by the amorous changelings of Estrus Valley. Out of nowhere, Celestia starts complaining that Anon hasn't fucked her yet. This appears to be the result of a pollen native to Estrus Valley that causes mares to...well...enter estrus. After escaping the changeling horde, they have yet another discussion about the present state of their relationship, which ends with Anon promising to give her a long, deep dicking as soon as this whole wacky adventure wraps itself up.

>You think you hear a squee from her, though it may just be the sound and sensation of warping as she steps upon the exit as the words leave your mouth.
I really, really hate the word "squee," but I've come to grudgingly accept that authors in this fandom will probably never stop using it.

There is a page break, and the scene transitions rather jarringly into an unknown cave filled with magical crystals. Anon and Celestia have yet another discussion about how much better things were in the good old days before Twilight went crazy. Then, a bunch of ghosts come out of the crystals and start swirling around going wooOoOOoOoOOOoOoOOoOOooOOoooO.

We have now arrived at Trial 12/13: The Dark Star.

Celestia provides a bit of context for what's going on here:

>Celestia’s expression turns somber as she trots to your side. “Not everything the progenitors created had a benevolent purpose. We came to call this the Dark Star. From what we understand, it was created as a great magical weapon, but even the progenitors themselves feared its power, so they sealed it here, in this cavern far below the earth. I suspect they either couldn’t destroy it themselves, or they wanted to keep it as a reminder of their past mistakes. Regardless, it resonates with a type of dark magic that neither Luna nor myself were able to control, and it’s my sincere hope that it remains entombed here until the end of time.”
The "progenitors" have come up before; they appear to be some sort of ancient race that ruled the world prior to the ponies' coming. Sort of the Etruscans to the Ponies' Rome.

>There was a powerful unicorn sorcerer who long ago managed to separate a fragment from the Star and use it for his own ends, but it eventually consumed him. Luna and I retrieved the fragment and sealed it within Canterlot’s Forbidden Archives, since we had no way of returning it here, as you’d imagine.
Not sure if this is foreshadowing something, or if it's just an interesting tidbit of lore about the setting, but either way it's worth making a note of. This crystal-thing is an ancient, extremely dangerous magical weapon that not even the Princesses can control, and a fragment of it exists in the archives in Canterlot, where crazy Old Maid Sparkle now resides.

Anyway, they keep on crossing bridges while avoiding the ghosts that keep darting around. The ghosts appear to cause minor injury if they touch you. Then, for some unexplained reason, the Dark Star seems to react to their presence, and begins pulsating. After a time, it becomes apparent that it is growing, and if Celestia and Anon don't make it out soon, it will likely consume them. To make matters worse, the crystals that light the cavern are beginning to fade out.


Well, as luck would have it, our heroes are protected by plot armor and can't die, so yada yada yada they make it to the exit rune and escape. However, they did not emerge unscathed: both of them were stung multiple times by venomous ghosts. Celestia seems to have gotten the worst of it. After some brief discussion, they decide that they are still capable of making it to the final trial, and the scene ends in a page break.


>During your walk here, the two of you talked about many different things. Yourselves, your pasts, your future together... and even a little about Twilight.
This is hardly noteworthy; these characters have spent the entire story talking about little else besides these subjects. Also, it's generally bad form to gloss over events with "along the way, they did ______ and talked about __________ and ___________ and __________." If their actions or conversations during that time block are important, then it's better that we witness all of it in real time, rather than hear about it after the fact. If it's unimportant, it doesn't bear mentioning at all; better to just cut to the next scene and let the reader imagine the in-between events.

>But now, there are no more words left to share. You know what needs to be done and how to go about it. All that’s left is the doing, so it’s without a single word between you that you step through the gate together without fear.
Presumably these lines were inserted to give this moment a bit of dramatic emphasis, seeing as how this is the last trial and all. However, there's nothing going on right now that's dramatic enough to justify it. Also, if we're being brutally honest, even the fact that this is the last trial isn't really that significant; these trials have been pretty uneventful for the most part. More errands than trials, really. Let's just move on to the next place already.

>You emerge in a pine forest. A cool evening breeze rustles the branches of the surrounding trees, and already the nocturnal insects and animals are beginning their familiar songs. You look to the sky through the branches overhead and breathe out a relieved sigh. It’s cloudless, with no storms lingering as far as you can see. You’ll desperately need the light of the moon and stars to guide your path, so hopefully Luna’s in a creative mood tonight.
There we go.

Up next, we have Trial 13/13: The Nameless Mountain.

>A mountain lingers in the distance.
Is it nameless? I'll bet it's nameless.

Anywho, it looks like the last thing they need to do is climb a mountain. The magic stone is nearly all charged up, and they're basically on the home stretch. They make it about halfway up the mountain and stop to rest, and the author segues (rather awkwardly) into another bit of Celestia's tragic backstory:

As I'm sure nearly anyone even remotely familiar with the lore of the MLP universe could have surmised, the key to unlocking the awesome power of the Ascension Orbs turns out to be...friendship. Yes, I know; quite shocking. Celosia, whatever Luna's name was back then (the text calls her Gloomy but I believe that was just a nickname), and Clover the Clever all swap orbs, and the act of freely giving the magic away instead of hanging on to it allows them all to...receive each others orbs, which they are then free to hang on to and/or use selfishly. Maybe the Progenitors didn't quite think this thing all the way through, but what the hay.

So anywho, Clover goes ahead and swallows his orb, and he ascends. Or, rather, he explodes and dies. Or, rather, he decides to meet himself in the middle, and half-ascends, half-dies. And so, yada yada yada, in a shocking twist, Clover the Clever consumes the alicorn orb and becomes...Discord.

The text, unfortunately, glosses over quite a bit of potentially interesting stuff here. Whatever is left of Clover the Clever somehow fuses with a bunch of lower spirits, and becomes an evil chimera bent on causing chaos and destruction. Celosia and Gloomy, by some unspecified method, somehow determine that swallowing the Orb while still on the island is what caused Clover to meet his ignoble end. So, they leave the island and swallow their own respective orbs, and presumably morphed into the lovable alicorn rascals we all know and love. However, they didn't quite know how to handle their new magic, whereas Clover had been a professional wizard or something, so they are no match for Discord. Yada yada yada, they fight and stuff.

This situation persists for 500 years, and then yada yada yada, the good guys prevailed. Discord was turned to stone, and Equestria (or whatever it was called back then) was saved. However, as soon as the war was over, the three pony tribes all went back to squabbling over mundane bullshit, so yada yada yada the alicorns rose up to rule them all and impose order, all the while retaining the slim hope that one day they could retire and pass this task on to somepony else. Somepony purple, perhaps, and mentally unstable, with no government experience.

Once the italicized flashback concludes, there is a page break, and we rejoin Celestia and Anon in the present day. While the flashback was playing, they appear to have made it to the top o' the mountain unscathed.

>You turn to help your alicorn the rest of the way, and the two of you collapse in the soft mountain snow, breathless, in pain, but euphoric at your triumph.
Would you say that...in this moment...they are...euphoric?

Anyway, at the top of the mountain, they flop down in the snow to rest and ruminate on their reason for being here. Celestia has a few thoughts about what the Progenitors' intentions might have been:

>I think... I think I understand the nature of my mistake,” she says as she catches her breath. “The Trials of Equus... they’re not meant as a test to prove one worthy.

>They’re meant to prepare one for their ascension. The perspective granted from the hardships, and the bonds of friendship formed between two or more who could overcome them... these things can’t be taught from another’s words, or learned from a book.
An interesting theory, but there are some holes. For one, the "hardships" they've encountered so far have been rather mundane. As I said earlier, these "trials" are really more like a series of errands. Second, the first time Anon did these trials, he was alone, yet the Orb of Ascension he brought home with him worked just fine.

>They have to be personally experienced, and that’s why I was such a fool to give Twilight the Orb. She, who never set a hoof here, and never learned of the true depth of the bonds she holds with her friends... she lacks the perspective needed to truly guide the power she holds. Hence all this foolishness.
Yeah, either that or she's just crazy. Either way, nearly anyone could have easily surmised that giving Twilight an Orb of Ascension without bothering to tell her what it is or what it does, and then abdicating the throne and leaving her in charge of the entire kingdom, was probably a bad idea. As with loneliness and cheeseburgers, horniness and autism are a dangerous mix, and adding phenomenal cosmic power to the equation probably isn't going to improve things.

>And the key lesson from the way the Orbs are unsealed... the most important from all of this, and the one I learned at the cost of almost everything, is that this burden cannot be borne alone. And yet that’s what she’s doing.
I don't mean to be a nagging Nelly here, Sunbutt, but again: this all seems like stuff the all-knowing alicorn Princess ought to have known and understood from the get-go, and thus would have instinctively avoided.

>She will never have the relationship with Luna that I have. She will never have the relationship with you that I have. She will lose her friends to Eternity, and she will be alone, just as she is now.
Well now you're just being a bitch.
>If this is an original drawing, I love it.
I found it in Yandex. I thought you would appreciate it.